July 9, 2012

The polar explorer and the "depraved" penguins.

Back in 1910, on Captain Scott's expedition to the south pole, George Murray Levick studied the penguins:
He was shocked by what he described as the "depraved" sexual acts of "hooligan" males who were mating with dead females. So distressed was he that he recorded the "perverted" activities in Greek in his notebook....

"What is happening there is not in any way analogous to necrophilia in the human context," [said Douglas Russell, curator of eggs and nests at the Natural History Museum]. "It is the males seeing the positioning that is causing them to have a sexual reaction."
It is the males seeing the positioning that is causing them to have a sexual reaction.... sounds oddly human to me.
"They are not distinguishing between live females who are awaiting congress in the colony, and dead penguins from the previous year which just happen to be in the same position. It is the males seeing the positioning that is causing them to have a sexual reaction."
Yes, yes, the previous year... that's a striking lack of distinction, but they've been kept refrigerated.

19 comments:

Bob said...

I don't know but I been told
Penguin pussy's mighty cold.

Sound off...

rhhardin said...

Ducks are similar lowlifes.

chickelit said...

Anyone seen Purple Penguin lately?

Joe said...

Didn't he also record something about penguin same-sex marriages?

Unknown said...

@Bob

There's a Robert Service poem in there somewhere.

chickelit said...

@Bob: Frijid Pink?

Rabel said...

I hope I forget this before I see another Danny Divito movie.

Bob said...

@chickelit: jody calls.

jimbino said...

And you don't have to take them to dinner or say how much you enjoyed it. And you can leave in the morning with no remorse or need for explanations.

edutcher said...

I have a feeling this will turn into another plea for marriage equality.

Dead people have rights, too.

traditionalguy said...

Wait a minute. Aren't penquins just birds that swim?

Any animal that hasn't made it to mammal stage complete with a penis or a mammary set doesn't count in a discussion of lust.

Joe said...

TMI time:

"Like in most birds, penguins have no external genitalia. That’s right, male penguins don’t have penises and the females don’t have vaginas. The male’s sperm is produced in the testes and stored in his cloaca (kind of an all purpose orifice for defecating, urinating, and reproduction). The female also has a cloaca that leads to the ovaries. The female penguin lies flat on the ground and the male penguin presses his cloaca onto hers and passes the sperms through."

PatCA said...

I don't think we'll see this in Penguins II.

jeff said...

"It is the males seeing the positioning that is causing them to have a sexual reaction.... sounds oddly human to me."

Positioning of year old dead females? You need to hang with a better class of humans.

bagoh20 said...

It was cold and dark, and I was feeling very needy.

Just leave me alone about it, OK?

Skyler said...

I am disturbed that anyone would liken this to human sexuality.

Quaestor said...

Though I'm not certain about the sexual anatomy of penguins, I wish to point out that some birds do not entirely rely on the "cloacal kiss" for copulation. Some birds, especially aquatic forms like ducks, geese and swans, have an intromissive organ in the males which serves the function of a penis in mammals.

Here's a photo of a mallard drake displaying his. He's evidently turned on by the nearby duck.

Whether male penguins possess this "penis" I haven't discovered yet, though it seems likely since the penguins are the ultimate water birds.

One should keep in mind birds generally are microsmatic, that is too say they can smell odors, but olfaction is not a highly developed sense compared to vision or audition. To give you an idea what this means practically humans and the great apes are also considered microsmatic. We are attracted or repealed by certain smells, but we can't rely on odors to find our food. Pheromones, which often play a large part in mammalian sexuality, have almost no role in avian reproduction. (At least as far as current research goes. Caro and Balthazart at UNC Chapel Hill are working on this and may publish on the subject of avian pheromones shortly.) Consequently birds rely chiefly on visual and/or auditory signals to advertise a willingness to mate, the big turn-on being the female presenting her cloaca. If a female penguin died in that pose and got frozen immediately the combination of the visual clue and the absence of the odor of decay would seem to be irresistible.

Just in case you're inclined to feel superior to the "idiotic" penguin, just keep in mind that human males are often strongly aroused by mere images of sexually alluring women. What else do the pornmeisters have to offer, smell-o-vision having not yet been invented?

William said...

Ar least the penguins didn't wear eye shadow and glitter before getting it on. You need eye shadows and glitter for that extra layer of depravity. I wonder if humans are the only species that consider weird sex acts amusing? Is it possible that an adventurous penguin would try out necrophilia precisely because other penguins regard sex with a corpse as icky and unthinkable? Isn't it a form of specieism to claim that humans are the only creatures capable of unusual mating for the sake of unusual matin

chickelit said...

Revealing photo of the cloaca maxima as it appears today: link

I've actually been inside it.